Penalties and restrictions for Small Ancestries when they wield large weapons: are there any?


Ancestries & Backgrounds


Hi everybody: I think that perhaps I'm really missing something. Do Small Ancestries have any restrictions or penalties about wielding large weapons or things like that? Now one of my players wants to create a mole - raider Gnome Paladin and I was looking for rules about that (yeahhh...great fun and really cool!). Many thanks!


So in the playtest the thing about inappropriate sized weapons is- you can't use them unless you have something that tells you that you can, and that will also tell you what penalties you suffer.

So a gnome who is a giant totem barbarian can use a large sized weapon, and like any giant totem barbarian will suffer sluggish 1 when doing so.

A goblin fighter cannot use a large weapon, or a medium one. But this is not a big deal since unlike in PF1, weapons no longer do more or less damage based on their size. So a human fighter with a longsword does 1d8 + StrMod and a goblin fighter with a longsword does 1d8+StrMod.

The only reason the aforementioned gnome barbarian would do extra damage with a large weapon is because the "titan mauler" ability says you do.


Based on my understanding, you didn't miss anything. There is no distinction between small and medium races in terms of what weapons they can use. A gnome can use a greatsword exactly as well as a half-orc. He'll still have problems with a large-sized creature's weapons, but only the same problems that the half-orc would also have.

And thank God they did this. I enjoy 5E, but I don't touch small size races on sheer principle due to how they have them interact with Heavy weapons.

Liberty's Edge

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Weapons of irregular size can currently only be used FLAT OUT by Barbarians of the Giant Totem.

Weapon Damage scaling for creature size has always been ripe for abuse and it only ever served the most munch-of-kin PCs.

This is one grave I am truly glad to never dig up again.


I also want to point out that you can get any kind of weapon or armor for any size category of person (but platemail for a kaiju will be prohibitively expensive). So a gnome with a greataxe is no big deal, it's just going to be a greataxe sized for a gnome.


Themetricsystem wrote:

Weapons of irregular size can currently only be used FLAT OUT by Barbarians of the Giant Totem.

Weapon Damage scaling for creature size has always been ripe for abuse and it only ever served the most munch-of-kin PCs.

This is one grave I am truly glad to never dig up again.

I disagree on so many levels.

As a GM, damage dice helped differentiate between weaker and stronger creatures and the types of attacks they had, and it's still used in PF2.

In my experience as a player, Vital Strike and similar damage dice "shenanigans" have always proved inferior to typical optimization tactics. In fact, the only real beneficiaries of damage dice is a wider range (and slightly higher average) of damage for those who can't get multiple attacks in. Why roll 4D8+6 when you can roll 1D8+30?


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"Managing weapon dice changing is a pain" and "it makes sense for a huge thing with a sword to do much more damage than a small thing with that same style of cord" is one reason I am extremely glad we have done away with "PCs and Monsters use the same* rules".

*modulo a fudge factor and numerous special abilities available only to monsters, naturally.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Themetricsystem wrote:

Weapons of irregular size can currently only be used FLAT OUT by Barbarians of the Giant Totem.

Weapon Damage scaling for creature size has always been ripe for abuse and it only ever served the most munch-of-kin PCs.

This is one grave I am truly glad to never dig up again.

I disagree on so many levels.

As a GM, damage dice helped differentiate between weaker and stronger creatures and the types of attacks they had, and it's still used in PF2.

In my experience as a player, Vital Strike and similar damage dice "shenanigans" have always proved inferior to typical optimization tactics. In fact, the only real beneficiaries of damage dice is a wider range (and slightly higher average) of damage for those who can't get multiple attacks in. Why roll 4D8+6 when you can roll 1D8+30?

Lots of reasons.

One, you want variable results, but in a predictable, reliable distribution curve: multiple dice yield that, a single die doesn't. 1d8 plus a large <X> suggests you might as well not roll- the die result is largely irrelevant.
10-38 is a very different range from 31-38

Two, you don't want average damage to be that high. 4d8+6 is, on average, about 24 points, while 1d8+30 is 34.5. That's a pretty big shift in output.

---
Three, the way weapon damage works via magic weapon properties in PF2 is crazily skewed. Forcing small characters down a die type makes them useless as martials (and several types of caster, given how much lower cantrip damage is). Similarly, larger damage dice for bigger weapons inordinately favors big weapons with stacks of buffs on them even more so than PF1 did with enlarge, lead blades, etc.

PF2 already has a problem with several weapons being useless, because there are significantly better weapons in the same category. Punishing small characters for existing by shrinking damage dice or prevent access to bigger, better weapons just shuts them out of part of the game. Most of the small ancestries are already hit with a strength penalty, why double dip?

By the time even +2 weapons are rolling around, the weapon problem is already really apparent, ranging from 3d4+2 (5-14) to 3d12+2 (5-38). Exacerbating those numbers even with just small and large sized weapons makes things incredibly ridiculous, especially since monster HP doesn't change. Introducing small and large weapons into this mix just changes the game to hard mode and easy mode.


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So as mentioned, the only current thing that can conceivably be seen as an impact on damage from size is that, as mentioned that many small races have a -2 to STR, meaning that the Max STR gets knocked back by 2 which will amount to a -1 damage per attack for melee attacks.

Simply put, it means that while a human wields a 3 foot sword, they will do 1d6 damage, while a halfling wielding a blade that long will produce a 1d8 damage, so that the rules can be simplified, and so it can be fair to the smaller races.

Honestly, I don't really feel it is significantly simpler when you consider what aspects of consistency it does break.

Don't allow magic enlarges to stack, don't allow abilities that create the effect of 'larger' weapon to stack with enlarged weapons, etc. Don't make spells that increase the 'size' of the weapon two categories, for instance.

By pushing up one size, it normally makes an average damage adjustment of +1 per die. So lets just imagine a +5 weapon, that would amount to 5 points damage difference. Granted, die going up from d12 instead becomes a +2 circumstantial bonus, which is more than +1 so I guess that is slightly different. I also would presume that a d4 would go to a d3 instead of a d2. Which a d4 to d3 would be a change of about a half point of damage, instead of a point.

I personally prefer the idea of shifting damage dice by one step rather than prohibiting them from being able to use a category of weapons.

You know what, what if they type of damage done affected the shift?

Bludgeoning weapons if the size of the creature goes up or down, the die damage should shift up or down based on being larger or smaller.

Slashing weapons, either handle like bludgeoning weapons above, or treat it like they require 2 size changes to change die size. (so you could have S and M be the same, simplifying character creation

Piercing weapons, either don't change based on size, or maybe require 2 or 3 size changes to cause a die change. It makes sense that with piercing you are frequently trying to penetrate in and hurt something vital. It is a matter of how much strength to go deep in, more than it is specifically how large the weapon is. Most piercing weapons, save maybe a dagger don't generally get to go the length of their size in terms of penetration, so the size is less a matter than the strength put into the penetration. In some cases smaller might even have certain advantages with damage regarding piercing.

That way piercing things, like short swords, daggers, picks, spears, arrows, and quarrels would be equally viable for small creatures, even at the +5 magic weapon state, but a gnome with a Maul would still be scarier than a dwarf with a warhammer, but not do quite as much raw damage as if he were three feet taller and eight times as heavy. That actually seems somewhat intuitive to me, and consistant with many fantasy stories. It isn't uncommon to consider fear of the small folk's 'sting', but worried about being 'smashed' by some giant.

I think, by just making piercing an exception, perhaps requiring 2 size changes per die change (leaving S and M the same) meaning T and L would be where you would see one die size shift for piercing seems simplest way to handle it.

Just a my thoughts.


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I honestly do not know if there needs to be both a "small" and "medium" size category. It might just work best if there's just a "PCs come in this size and use these rules" category and the exceptions are for non-PCs who are noticeably larger or smaller.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
I honestly do not know if there needs to be both a "small" and "medium" size category. It might just work best if there's just a "PCs come in this size and use these rules" category and the exceptions are for non-PCs who are noticeably larger or smaller.

I think there is a tradition for there to be a difference, but with the speed changes, etc. and the lack of differences in weapon damage, you might be right. It might be better to simply have small and medium become the new 'medium' and not have there be a size difference. It would mean you'd be letting a goblin wield a theoretically 6foot two handed sword just like a human, and you'd then need to get rid of the different weights for the different sizes, and different carrying capacities.

If they are going to separate them out, it seems like there should be some impact for it. If they want to just generalize it, then it should be generalized, not generalized, except with significant impact with size, weight, and such in other cases.

That would probably create issues with riding dogs and pony's and such however then, as they won't want humans riding them, and/or having those animals be large creatures.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
I honestly do not know if there needs to be both a "small" and "medium" size category. It might just work best if there's just a "PCs come in this size and use these rules" category and the exceptions are for non-PCs who are noticeably larger or smaller.

Totally agreed here. I've felt that all PC races should have just been declared Medium ever since 4E instituted its horrible Small size weapons restrictions.


I mean, I definitely do not want "large by default" PC ancestries, since "having to structure ever adventure around a potential character who does not fit in a human sized building" is a pain in the butt I do not need.


Agreed, which is why I was ecstatic when the 5E Ravnica book introduced Medium-size Centaurs.


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Although, let us be honest. It is easy enough to throw small to medium into a bag and call it medium and gloss over the differences. It is also very true that some stories told so far have had heroes that were decidedly not within the size range of a small gnome and a large human. If we build the game to be nonsensical about size, saying it has to be ignored, is cutting off some stories that used to be valid.

Granted, having large PCs being a splat-book is more than viable restriction. But, it seems like the intent was to ignore size for things... except for other things they didn't ignore the size (weights, carrying, item size usage, riding limitations).

At present its usage seems distinctly inconsistent with itself.


Tectorman wrote:
Agreed, which is why I was ecstatic when the 5E Ravnica book introduced Medium-size Centaurs.

Just a reminder that a medium centaur can ride another medium centaur.

(But at least a towering stack of them is not allowed, Crawford said so).


Draco18s wrote:
Tectorman wrote:
Agreed, which is why I was ecstatic when the 5E Ravnica book introduced Medium-size Centaurs.

Just a reminder that a medium centaur can ride another medium centaur.

(But at least a towering stack of them is not allowed, Crawford said so).

Right up until you take their carrying capacity into account (a Str 20 Centaur can handle up to 600 lbs, which is where a Centaur's base weight starts). Besides, you don't want another Centaur on your back; you want Halfling or Gnome turrets!


I've hard large PCs without issue, since I tend to be fairly lenient on squeezing rules. Medium doors might slow them a bit, but they only have serious issues if a door was aimed at small creatures.

But yeah the small/medium distinction is mostly a non-thing in PF2E


Tectorman wrote:

Based on my understanding, you didn't miss anything. There is no distinction between small and medium races in terms of what weapons they can use. A gnome can use a greatsword exactly as well as a half-orc. He'll still have problems with a large-sized creature's weapons, but only the same problems that the half-orc would also have.

And thank God they did this. I enjoy 5E, but I don't touch small size races on sheer principle due to how they have them interact with Heavy weapons.

Small creatures are already penalized because of low strength, while large creatures are already boosted because of high strength. I've never understood the need for different dice depending on size. It just seems counterintuitive, especially when you consider that small creatures get a bonus to hit.

If you scale two creatures up or down in size, but change nothing else, their hit rates stay the same because of that bonus. But apparently, kaiju kill each other faster than normal-sized lizards, because their massive size deals more damage.


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RazarTuk wrote:
Tectorman wrote:

Based on my understanding, you didn't miss anything. There is no distinction between small and medium races in terms of what weapons they can use. A gnome can use a greatsword exactly as well as a half-orc. He'll still have problems with a large-sized creature's weapons, but only the same problems that the half-orc would also have.

And thank God they did this. I enjoy 5E, but I don't touch small size races on sheer principle due to how they have them interact with Heavy weapons.

Small creatures are already penalized because of low strength, while large creatures are already boosted because of high strength. I've never understood the need for different dice depending on size. It just seems counterintuitive, especially when you consider that small creatures get a bonus to hit.

If you scale two creatures up or down in size, but change nothing else, their hit rates stay the same because of that bonus. But apparently, kaiju kill each other faster than normal-sized lizards, because their massive size deals more damage.

Small creatures 'might' be penalized already in strength, but aren't necessarily. For instance, goblins aren't. I don't think you can assume all small creatures in the futures will be limited to having been 'penalized' in Str. Two out of three currently existing ones do start with a penalty in STR. Also, unless I'm mistaken, size no longer affects AC, nor gives you a bonus to hit like it did in 1st edition. Someone correct me if I missed something in respect to that.

Generally, in those cases I've seen, 'larger' monsters are almost invariably built with more HP. Take 2nd edition ogres which are designed to be painful bags of HP. Scary and dangerous to low levels, a nuisance that still is hard to ignore at higher levels.

I think it is harder for me to explain why a one foot blade does damage as a dagger when wielded by a medium creature, but a similar one foot blade wielded by a small creature suddenly does damage one or more die higher as a full sword. i.e. small creature inherently does more damage with smaller weapons. (these weapons are traditionally considered about 1/10 the weight of their larger equivalent doing the same damage) For me that is more immersion breaking than accepting if I choose a smaller 'ancestry' that it affects my melee damage I do. I can deal with it as a sacrifice for simplicity, but it is definitely a glaring irregularity.

Taking it a size step further, say a pixie with the one foot long greatsword, chops the first level adventurer in twain with a crit with his 2d12-2 damage, while the now rather scared mage companion might swing their (comparatively heavier) dagger of similar length, managing to luck out with a crit too, getting 2d4-1 in damage. Can you really say that would make more sense to you?

You know what, if a big part of the problem is that when you get magic weapons the loss of weapon dice is too significant, allow at say +2 allow the reduction to disappear. (potentially allow a second reduction be abated at +4 if relevant) This way, the pixie greatsword does d8 instead of d12, but a +2 pixie greatsword could do 3d10, and a +4 pixie greatsword would do 5d12, which at that point, it isn't unreasonable for the blade to be doing more damage than one should 'think' would be possible, due to its power. This magic only reduces reductions, it does't increase die sizes of weapons of medium or larger sizes. Viola? What would you think about that as a possible solution?


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Ok, after re-reading the bulk rules one more time, I am less certain of things. I had gotten the impression that small had small sized items, and medium had medium sized items, but the rules for how much 'bulk' they could carry was the same. [i.e. relative to the items of their size, they could carry the same general objects, weapons, armor, etc]

In the 'Items of Different Sizes' section on page 190, it does say, Creatures of sizes other than Small or Medium need items appropriate to their size. This makes it sound like their items aren't small or medium, they just are items. Meaning a small character wearing plate mail, is wearing as much as the medium character wearing plate mail. They are the same sized items, according to the rules.

With this in mind, I really wish they had simply eliminated the small size as a category. It is making the process much more confusing by being there. I think by raw, goblins are actually supposed to be fully capable of wielding 6 foot greatswords without issue, and that is why the die size doesn't drop for small creatures.

This sort of completely throws off the usefulness of bulk to a degree now however, as I thought its purpose was to make calculations be consistent between medium and small. Now it would seem that carrying a fallen heavily armored goblin off the battlefield will be as heavy as doing the same for a medium sized companion.

I'm also now trying to figure out how that impacts mounts? Is that the only way that size not matter between small and medium. Small characters can ride medium or large mounts, while medium characters need large mounts?

Having two sizes be the same sizes except for some circumstances, where they simply aren't two different sizes is really confusing. But maybe it will become clearer as some of the ramifications sink in. I hope, assuming bulk is still there, that this aspect of what size means becomes more clear. I don't think the current rules did the best job of conveying this, since I read the rules more than once before, since I thought it was a little confusing at first anyway. In any case, it seems at this point, last specified in the playtest, that some things are small, somethings are small+medium and other things are medium, and that seems confusing to me. I hope the final version is somehow more intuitive.

I wish they had either gotten rid of small size, or gone ahead and treated them as they were actually two different sizes.

So if items had sizes (S and M) I would still argue for my prior post. In retrospect, I still think that would be better, but based on what I think I'm seeing now, I'm just left kind of confused and less certain of what feels best at this point.


Really, the simplest thing is to say that their is little to no difference between small and medium creatures and what they can carry or what it does.

They have the same bulk because the bulk is relative. Sure the armor for a small character is smaller and lighter, but it encumbers them the same (which is the concept behind bulk).

The weapons deal the same damage...because they said so.

How much bulk characters have? Not sure on this one, it isn't actually stated outright in the core rules as far as I know.


Claxon wrote:

Really, the simplest thing is to say that their is little to no difference between small and medium creatures and what they can carry or what it does.

They have the same bulk because the bulk is relative. Sure the armor for a small character is smaller and lighter, but it encumbers them the same (which is the concept behind bulk).

The weapons deal the same damage...because they said so.

How much bulk characters have? Not sure on this one, it isn't actually stated outright in the core rules as far as I know.

It was. It was just buried in the description for "petrification", IIRC. Namely, that Medium characters go from 8 Bulk to 16 Bulk. Yes, that's correct. As per the weight to Bulk conversion guidelines, Medium characters are between 40 and 80 pounds, and it takes being petrified into solid stone to be between 80 and 160 pounds (in the meantime, I am IRL 5'9" and 180 lbs). God, I'm hoping Bulk didn't make it into the final product.

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